Crossing State Lines: Interstate Travel in New England during COVID-19 Pandemic
Please note that Pierce Atwood stopped updating this alert on April 30, 2021. For more recent information regarding travel requirements and restrictions, please see our overall alert on business restrictions here.
Location-based exemptions change often and without notice, so please be sure to check the listing for the states you plan to include in your travels.
In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, states have instituted requirements or other guidance for travelers from out of state. However, many states have now rolled back or repealed their quarantine requirements for domestic visitors, relying instead on recommendations. A summary for each state in New England is outlined below. Our state-by-state overview of business and social restrictions more generally throughout New England is available here.
The CDC recommends delaying international travel until fully vaccinated, with masks still required on all forms of public transportation, including planes, despite vaccination status. The CDC’s mask order also permits carriers and operators to impose additional requirements for greater public health protection.
All air passengers entering the U.S. including U.S. citizens and those fully vaccinated, are required to have a negative COVID-19 result from a test taken no more than three days before travel, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months before boarding the flight.
Prior to travel within the U.S. during the pandemic, CDC guidance recommends first considering whether your destination is a hotspot, whether your home location or your destination requires quarantine after traveling, and whether you live with someone who is vulnerable.
Please note that the Department of Homeland Security has again extended its limitation on travel between Canada and the U.S. at ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada border, permitting only essential travel through May 21, 2021. Similarly, Canada continues to restrict entry into Canada from the U.S. to essential travel and immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
As of March 19, 2021, Connecticut’s travel and quarantine requirements are no longer in effect. While there are no longer any mandates or requirements, it is recommended that residents and visitors to the state follow travel-related guidance from CDC and the state’s Department of Public Health.
Maine’s current travel restrictions expire May 1, 2021 and are not expected to be renewed. After that date, there will be no requirement for visitors from outside New England to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for 10 days, except for international travelers.
Effective March 22, Order 66 repealed mandatory quarantine and testing requirements. However, visitors to Massachusetts, including returning residents, are advised to quarantine for 10 days upon their arrival. Travelers are still encouraged to consult and follow the CDC guidelines and requirements for travel, including for international travel.
On March 11, Governor Sununu announced that the state is now only recommending testing or quarantine for travelers entering New Hampshire from outside of New England, but that it is no longer required. However, the requirement is still in place for travelers coming from other countries.
Rhode Island still requires a 10-day quarantine for international travelers and for domestic cross-border travel for non-work-related purposes from states with high community spread and states with a COVID-19 positivity rate over 5%. As of this update, states considered hotspots include Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, among others. You can access the continuously-updated list here. International travelers are recommended to take their COVID-19 test on day five of quarantine or later; a negative result shortens the required quarantine to seven days.
As an alternative to quarantine, travelers from hotspots may provide proof of a negative test for COVID-19 taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Rhode Island. Visitors must quarantine while waiting for test results, and may only end the quarantine if a negative result is obtained. Upon arrival, visitors subject to these requirements must complete a certificate of compliance and an out-of-state travel screening form. Additional travel tips are available here. Travelers who have tested positive or recovered for COVID within the past 90 days and have completed their isolation periods do not require a negative test or quarantine prior to entering unless symptomatic. Travelers who were fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to travel are also exempt.
These self-quarantine and testing requirements do not apply to those traveling for work, to public health, public safety, or health care workers, people traveling for medical treatment, court hearings, to attend funeral or memorial services, to obtain necessities such as groceries, gas, or medication, to drop off or pick up children from care, or to anyone who must work on their boats. Quarantine guidance for those in close contact with someone with COVID-19 is available here.
As of April 6, 2021, travelers returning to or entering Vermont are no longer required to quarantine, except for international travelers. However, unvaccinated residents, including children, must be tested for COVID-19 within three days of their return, and unvaccinated visitors must have a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of their arrival. While travelers to the state may still quarantine, a quarantine does not exempt them from the testing requirement if unvaccinated.
Exemptions still apply for those traveling for essential purposes. Essential travel includes travel for personal safety, health care, care of others, parental shared custody, for food, beverage or medicine, for students to attend preK-12 school or college commuting daily, or a school-sponsored activity, or for work. However, the testing exemption only applies to the person under essential travel rules; it does not apply to anyone else who travels with the essential traveler for non-essential reasons.
For questions on how these orders affect your business, please contact firm attorneys Kathleen Hamann or Sarah Remes.